When Qatar Sports Investments became the sole shareholders of Paris Saint-Germain in 2011, it signaled a major change for the club. With high ambitions and a thirst to raise the profile of the club around the world, they set out to sign their first world class talent and landed on Palermo’s Javier Pastore. The high transfer fee, rumored to be around €40 million, was questioned by some but there was no doubt about the talent and potential of El Flaco.
Pastore’s first season (2011-12) was a dream. He thrived under then manager Antoine Kombouaré, scoring 13 goals and recording 6 assists in Ligue 1. However, Kombouaré was sacked during Pastore’s first season as he wasn’t quite performing up to the level the new owner’s expected. He was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti who forced Pastore to play on the wing instead of his preferred attacking midfield role. Flaco‘s drop in form coincided with this move and the team ultimately finished second behind Montpellier HSC in the table.
Several notable names were signed in the next season including Zlatan Ibrahimovic from A.C. Milan. The Swedish striker’s style of dropping into the midfield restricted the creativity of Pastore and he was once again deployed on the wings. Laurent Blanc’s arrival during the summer of 2013, shortly after Ancelotti departed, didn’t change the situation and Pastore played a minor role in the team except the moment of brilliance against Chelsea in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal. As a result of his poor club performance, Pastore lost his place in the Argentina squad for the FIFA World Cup in 2014.
The 2014-15 season was a breakthrough for Pastore after he finally adapted well to the tactics of Blanc. He scored five goals and record 12 assists in Ligue 1 and his country took notice as he was selected to participate in the 2015 Copa América tournament.
Unfortunately for Pastore, his run of good form didn’t last. He was injured for most of the 2015-16 season despite a strong start to this past summer under new manager Unai Emery, calf issues have once again kept him off the pitch. Pastore returned in November as a substitute against FC Nantes for 10 minutes before he picked up another injury. This time it was his knee.
Six injuries in two years raises serious concerns about his physical strength to play at a high level. Make no mistake, he is a world class player but all the talent in the world doesn’t help if he isn’t healthy enough to play 90 minutes against Europe’s best. Pastore must return to form and play on a consistent basis during the second half of the season. This may be the final chance for the Prince of the Parc to impress the team, Emery, and the supporters. If the injuries still continue, PSG will need to move on and it will be an end of an era if he is ultimately replaced.